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The Nenetses, Nentsi, Yurak (archaic), or Samoyedes (archaic) are nomadic people who moved (probably from farther south in Siberia) to the northernmost part of Russia when other peoples moved into their original territory (before the 12th century A.D.). They ended up between the Kanin and Taymir peninsulas, around the Ob' and Yenisey rivers, with some of them settling into small communities and taking up farming, while others continued hunting and reindeer herding. They bred the Samoyed dog to help herd their reindeer and pull their sleds, and European explorers later used those dogs for polar expeditions, because they are so well adapted to the purpose.

The name Samoyed appeared in Russian language as a deformation of the self-name Samodi, linguisticaly related to Saami. The literal translation of samoyed from Russian is "self-eater" and sounds very derogatory. Therefore it quickly went out of usage in the 20th century, and the people bear the name of Nenets, which is actually one of Samodi tribes.

The Samoyedic languages are a minor branch of the Uralic language family, the major branch being the Finno-Ugric languages. The language and respective ethnic groups include:

After the Russian Revolution, the government of the Soviet Union tried to force the nomad Samoyeds to settle down, and most of them were assimilated.

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